Friday 22 January 2016

Langkawi Birdwatching: Sparrows with Plain-Backed

Whenever I have this bird on the telescope, the very first thing I will say, "You must see this one. This is not your ordinary plain sparrow!". Most people regard sparrows are common mainly because they always see these birds in their gardens, on the streets and backyard. 

Well, not this one. This is not your ordinary but a Plain-Backed Sparrow Passer flaveolus.
Plain-Backed Sparrow Passer flaveolus male
Passer in Latin means sparrow and flaveolus in Latin is golden black. This pretty male ought to deserve a better common name than a "plained-backed".

The other species of sparrow found on this island is the common Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus. The call of a Plain-Backed Sparrow is close to the Eurasian Tree Sparrow  but less harsh and more metallic.

Apparently in Malaysia, this species of sparrow can be seen in the Northern part of Peninsular Malaysia. I have seen this species in Chuping in the state of Perlis. 

If you wish to see them in Langkawi, go wonder around the rice fields area or villages by the rice fields. Plain-backed sparrows are mostly found in open field areas. You will love them, they are gorgeous!

1. A Field Guide to the Birds of South-East Asia by Craig Robson

2. Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names by James A. Jobling

Monday 11 January 2016

Langkawi Birdwatching Tour: Great Hornbill Nesting on Langkawi

This video was taken in December 2012. There were some waiting time involved in the process of recording this precious moment. The patience paid off. This male Great Hornbill Buceros bicornis eventually arrived safely with some figs for his hungry mate. 

I kept my hands as steady as possible while videoing this moment with my heart pumping with excitement. Enjoy this video.

The current inspection of this same tree has shown that this cavity is now vacant. Perhaps, this pair may have found a better nesting spot elsewhere?

Thursday 7 January 2016

Langkawi Mangrove Boat Cruise: ABM Members

"ABM". That was the answer from Vivien when I asked her for the names in her group. ABM stands for Association Backpackers of Malaysia. Vivien, Tan and myself met on hiking trips more than a decade ago under the umbrella of ABM. We lost contact for a long time until Facebook reconnected us.

Vivien, Tan and their three sons came to Langkawi on the school holiday in the first week of December 2015. This was their second tour with me on the mangroves boat cruise and their first one was in 2013. Vivien and family enjoyed their first experience in Kilim mangroves and the Bat Cave that they brought the Hoo family along. All of us were also the members of ABM.

Adventurous and sporting family
Vivien's boys remembered their exciting moment on their first tour with an alpha male of a Long-tailed macaque. They have learned not to place any food containers on the boat. This alpha male leaped from a leaning tree onto the roof of our boat because he spotted a can of Pringles left on the seat. With the speed of a lightning, he descended and then followed by screams on the boat. He took what he was eyeing for and then dived into the water. Oh dear...there goes a rubbish.. oh well, I will pick up more trash when I go kayaking next. I said this in my heart with guilt as I watched the macaque happily inspecting the can. The boys told us that the can was empty. Poor macaque then. We were caught off guard and a lesson learned for us including myself. It was also their first time having to see a macaque swims.

All of us as members of ABM are nature lovers. Vivien and Tan are always encouraging their boys to be connected with nature as much as possible by being in the outdoors.
Interpretation tour with the Tan and Hoo family on the mangroves boat cruise
They were shown the mudflat creatures like the fiddler crabs and mudskippers and were lucky to see a Brown-winged Kingfisher. In Malaysia, Brown-winged kingfishers are only found in the mangroves of Langkawi.

This is how beautiful a Brown-winged kingfisher looks like. This picture taken a few months ago.
The tour took them into the heart of Tanjung Rhu mangroves before arriving at the Bat Cave in Kilim. The call of empty stomachs made us stopped at a floating restaurant for a simple lunch. Thankfully the floating restaurant was not packed with people and they didn't need to wait long for their meals.
I really love this picture! Is classic. The surrounding of the mangroves is so tranquil, peaceful and together with the gentle rock of the slow moving boat is definitely relaxing. I would do the same too if I am not on the job!
The final moment all of them especially the kids have been waiting for...... a swim at a beach! Tan demonstrated how to jump off from the boat into the water and all of them went crazy! The kids did countless rounds of jumping off the boat!

It was fun having them back on the same tour again. Thank you Vivien and family for your support and enthusiasm. Looking forward to see all of you next time. How about kayaking the next time?

Please click here to view Vivien's review

The Tan family went site seeing on their own. I like this picture so much that I post it here. The kids posing on the Eagle Square in Kuah town